One of the rules I live by is “there is almost nothing worth having at full retail price”. I would also add “never travel during peak season” and DEFINITELY “don’t travel during the busiest travel day of the year to the single busiest place”. And I chucked all of my rules out of the window last Thanksgiving for the love of a beagle.
As much as I love off season travel and off-beat destinations, the Eiffel tower at Epcot just ain’t the Eiffel tower, and nothing matches the sheer spectacle of the Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade. After all these years, I still rush to the TV at 9AM to eagerly watch every minute: lip synching child stars, mid-western high school bands, already closed Broadway shows and all.
And the balloons. Oh, the balloons. Snoopy to Spongebob, Bullwinkle to Betty Boop, I love them all.
I’m pleased to report the event lived up to my expectations and that a new generation of Macy’s parade lovers has been born. It was touch and go with the Deal Kids at 630AM in the freezing cold on 57th Street, but when the larger than life size Hello Kitty rounded the corner on Columbus Circle and Deal Girl and Deal Kid both gasped “Wow”…I knew I had em.
But there were so many reasons NOT to go. The crowds. The cost. The cost. The cost.
That’s where points came in. I did it last year by stocking up on Priority Club points, and this year there are four great ways you can do it again quickly. IHG points post within a week so you still have plenty of time to get a couple of cheapie stays in and get to the parade.
I just checked IHG.com for Thanksgiving weekend in New York and saw availability at 35,000 points at a number of hotels that are walking distance to the parade route. Last year we stayed 2 nights, so that’s 70k. The cash price of the room we stayed in at the Holiday Inn 57th Street, which was a great location for the parade, is $704.68 including tax for the 27th and 28th of November. The Holiday Inn also has the advantage of having rooms that sleep 4 at the same reward price as rooms that sleep 2.
The great thing about IHG points is that you don’t have to earn 70k to use 70k as you can use Points and Cash for 25k + $70 for each night so you only need to come up with 50k for less than $544 to be saving money and give your family the experience of a lifetime. Here are 4 action items you can do to stock up on IHG points and put your family in the front row:
- Bonus Points Rates. My suggestion is to definitely not just trust the IHG.com bonus page search engine but to search “best available” for your destination and scroll all of the available rates…that’s how I find the bonus rates most often. Often times there’s a little + sign you have to click on to make all of the rates show up. Sometimes you also find them on the hotels individual page…do a search on IHG.com, then click on the invididual hotel’s offers. The holy grail, 25k, can be seen at the Hotel Indigo in Brooklyn, NYC for $80 over flex that could get you the parade in two nights!
- The “Big Win”: Be sure each family member’s account is registered for The Big Win as offers vary widely. For instance, I was targeted for 50,000 points and Deal Dad 134,000!
- Point Codes: Enter EVERY code you find…they often stack on top of each other! There’s no harm in trying! Flyertalk keeps a good list.
- “Back Door” point buying”Need a top up on your IHG account or want to do this without a hotel stay? You can transfer IHG points in from Chase. Just transfer in 5,000, then do the following:
- Book a “Cash and Points” stay at a 15,000 points hotel for 5,000 + $70. Here’s one you can use: Holiday Inn Winchester 15k
- Cancel it. You’ll be charged $70 and refunded 15,000 points!
- Repeat as needed (within reason…don’t go crazy or IHG will shut you down).Using just the transfer method you’re effectively buying points at .7 each. At that rate you’re paying $490 for 70k, or an immediate 31% discount before you’ve even stepped into a hotel room.
Have you done the Macy’s Parade, or are you planning to? Please share your experiences!
Affiliate links in post. Thanks if you use them.